Best Colorado Road Trips For Families: Explore The Rocky Mountains And More!

by | Oct 26, 2023 | Destinations

Colorado is a fantastic destination for families who love to road trip. With stunning mountain views, charming small towns, and plenty of outdoor activities, Colorado has something for everyone. Whether you're looking to explore national parks, relax in hot springs, or hit the ski slopes, there's a road trip itinerary that's perfect for your family.

One of the best ways to experience Colorado is by hitting the open road. There are countless scenic drives throughout the state, each offering its own unique views and attractions. From the iconic Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park to the Million Dollar Highway in the San Juan Mountains, there's no shortage of breathtaking drives to choose from. And with plenty of family-friendly stops along the way, you can turn your road trip into an unforgettable adventure for all ages.

In this article, we'll highlight some of the best Colorado road trips for families. Whether you're planning a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, we've got you covered with itineraries that include national parks, historic sites, hot springs, and more. So pack up the car, grab your camera, and get ready to explore the beauty of Colorado on your next family road trip.

Planning Your Colorado Family Road Trip

Planning a Colorado family road trip can be an exciting and fun experience for everyone. With so many options available, it can be hard to narrow down where to go and what to see. Here are some tips to help you plan the perfect Colorado road trip with kids.

Itinerary

The first step in planning your Colorado road trip is to create an itinerary. This will help you determine where you want to go and what you want to see. Consider including stops at national parks, scenic drives, and family-friendly attractions. There are many resources available online to help you plan your itinerary, including travel blogs and guidebooks.

Where to Stay

When planning your Colorado road trip with kids, it's important to consider where you will stay. There are many options available, including hotels, campgrounds, and vacation rentals. Consider your family's needs and preferences when choosing accommodations. For example, if you have young children, you may want to choose a hotel with a pool or a vacation rental with a kitchen.

Road Trip Essentials

Before hitting the road, make sure you have all the essentials for a successful road trip. This includes snacks, water, first aid kit, and entertainment for the kids. Consider bringing a map or GPS device in case you lose cell phone service. It's also a good idea to have a roadside assistance plan in case of emergencies.

Safety

Safety should always be a top priority when traveling with kids. Make sure everyone wears seat belts and follows traffic laws. Consider bringing a car seat or booster seat if needed. It's also a good idea to have a plan in case of inclement weather or other emergencies.

With these tips in mind, you can plan a memorable and enjoyable Colorado road trip with your family.

Exploring Denver with Kids

Denver is a family-friendly city that offers a variety of activities for children of all ages. From museums to parks to zoos, there is something for everyone. Here are a few top attractions to check out when exploring Denver with kids:

Downtown Aquarium

The Downtown Aquarium is a must-visit destination for families in Denver. With over 500 species of marine life and exhibits like the Shipwreck, Sunken Temple, and Under the Sea, children will be fascinated by the underwater world. They can even touch stingrays and horseshoe crabs at the Stingray Reef exhibit. The aquarium also has a restaurant, a 4-D theater, and a Ferris wheel for additional entertainment.

16th Street Mall

The 16th Street Mall is a pedestrian mall located in the heart of downtown Denver. It features over 300 stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Children will enjoy the street performers, including magicians, musicians, and balloon artists. The free shuttle bus that runs up and down the mall is also a fun way to see the city.

Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo is another popular attraction for families. With over 4,000 animals and 650 species, children will have the opportunity to see animals from around the world. The zoo offers a variety of exhibits, including Predator Ridge, Tropical Discovery, and Primate Panorama. Children can also ride the train or carousel and participate in animal encounters.

Overall, Denver is a great destination for families with children. With a variety of attractions and activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Natural Wonders of Colorado

Colorado is home to some of the most stunning natural wonders in the United States, making it the perfect destination for a family road trip. From majestic peaks to cascading waterfalls, the state is full of breathtaking sights that are sure to leave visitors in awe.

One of the most iconic natural wonders in Colorado is the Rocky Mountains. This range spans over 3,000 miles and is home to some of the highest peaks in North America. Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-visit destination for families, with over 350 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Another natural wonder that is not to be missed is the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This park is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, as well as a unique climate that creates a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors. Families can hike, sandboard, or simply relax on the soft sand while enjoying the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

For those looking for a more relaxing experience, Colorado is also home to numerous hot springs. The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is the largest mineral hot springs pool in the world, while the Ouray Hot Springs Pool offers stunning mountain views. Families can also explore the historic hot springs in the town of Pagosa Springs, which have been used for centuries for their therapeutic properties.

Other natural wonders in Colorado include the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the Garden of the Gods, and Mesa Verde National Park. With so many stunning destinations to choose from, families are sure to have an unforgettable road trip through Colorado's natural wonders.

Family Friendly Cities and Towns

Colorado is home to many family-friendly cities and towns that offer a variety of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. Here are some of the most popular destinations:

Estes Park

Estes Park is a charming mountain town located at the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. Families can enjoy hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching in the park, as well as shopping and dining in the town. The Estes Park Aerial Tramway offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Vail

Vail is a popular ski resort town that also offers plenty of summer activities for families. The Vail Adventure Ridge offers zip lining, tubing, and a ropes course, while the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens offer a peaceful escape with beautiful mountain views.

Telluride

Telluride is a picturesque mountain town with a rich mining history. Families can take a gondola ride to the Mountain Village, where they can enjoy hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. The Telluride Historical Museum offers a glimpse into the town's past.

Aspen

Aspen is a world-renowned ski resort town that also offers plenty of summer activities for families. The Maroon Bells, located just outside of town, offer some of the most stunning mountain views in Colorado. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies offers educational programs for kids and adults.

Boulder

Boulder is a college town located at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Families can enjoy hiking, biking, and rock climbing in the nearby mountains, as well as exploring the town's many parks and museums. The Pearl Street Mall offers shopping and dining in a pedestrian-friendly environment.

Pagosa Springs

Pagosa Springs is a small town located in the San Juan Mountains. Families can enjoy the hot springs, as well as hiking and fishing in the nearby mountains. The town also offers a variety of restaurants and shops.

Fruita

Fruita is a small town located near the Colorado National Monument. Families can enjoy hiking and biking in the monument, as well as exploring the town's many parks and museums. The town is also known for its mountain biking trails.

Idaho Springs

Idaho Springs is a historic mining town located just outside of Denver. Families can explore the town's many shops and restaurants, as well as hiking and fishing in the nearby mountains. The Argo Gold Mine and Mill offers tours of a historic gold mine.

These are just a few of the many family-friendly cities and towns in Colorado. Whether you're looking for outdoor adventure or cultural attractions, Colorado has something for everyone.

Historical Sites and Monuments

Colorado is a state rich in history, and there are plenty of historical sites and monuments to visit on a family road trip. From ancient Puebloan ruins to historic towns and ghost towns, there is something for everyone.

One of the most popular historical sites in Colorado is Mesa Verde National Park. Here, visitors can explore the ancient cliff dwellings of the Puebloan people, including the famous Cliff Palace. The Mesa Top Loop and Cliff Palace Loop are two scenic drives that offer stunning views of the park and its history.

Another must-see historical site in Colorado is Chimney Rock National Monument. This site was once home to the Ancestral Puebloans, who built structures and observatories on the top of the rock formations. Visitors can take a guided tour to learn more about the history and culture of the people who once lived here.

For those interested in Colorado's mining history, the town of Silverton and the Million Dollar Highway are must-visit destinations. The Million Dollar Highway is a scenic drive that winds through the San Juan Mountains and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Silverton, a historic mining town, is a great place to learn about Colorado's mining history and explore the town's unique architecture.

Other historical sites and monuments worth visiting include the Royal Gorge Bridge, Balcony House, Skyline Drive, and Treasure Falls. Visitors can also explore the many historic towns and ghost towns scattered throughout the state, such as Independence Pass and Far View Lodge.

No matter what your family's interests are, Colorado has plenty of historical sites and monuments to explore. So pack up the car and hit the road for a trip through Colorado's rich history.

Outdoor Adventures and Sports

Colorado is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and endless opportunities for outdoor adventures and sports. Families can enjoy a variety of activities, from hiking and camping to skiing and snowboarding.

One of the must-visit destinations for outdoor enthusiasts is Great Sand Dunes National Park. Here, families can hike up towering sand dunes, sled or board down them, or even camp in the park's designated campsites. Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa offers rentals for sand sleds and sandboards, making it easy for families to enjoy the unique experience of sandboarding.

For those looking for a more traditional hiking experience, there are numerous hiking trails throughout the state, including the Bear Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. This trail is perfect for families with young children, as it is only a half-mile long and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lake.

Families can also visit other national parks, such as Mesa Verde National Park, where they can explore ancient cliff dwellings and learn about the history of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs is another popular destination, offering up-close encounters with a variety of animals and stunning views of the Front Range.

For those seeking more adrenaline-fueled activities, there are plenty of options as well. Ski resorts such as Snowmass offer skiing and snowboarding in the winter, while Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers thrill rides and cave tours year-round. The Royal Gorge Route Railroad in CaƱon City is another exciting option, offering scenic train rides through the Royal Gorge.

Finally, for those looking to conquer a 14er (a mountain peak over 14,000 feet), Mount Evans and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains offer challenging hikes with stunning views. Seven Falls in Colorado Springs is another popular destination, offering a scenic hike to a series of waterfalls.

No matter what type of outdoor adventure or sport families are looking for, Colorado has something to offer.

Visitor Centers and Information

When planning a family road trip to Colorado, it's important to gather as much information as possible about the state's attractions, destinations, and routes. One of the best ways to do this is to visit one of the many visitor centers located throughout the state. These centers provide a wealth of information, including maps, brochures, and expert advice on the best places to visit, dine, and stay.

In Southern Colorado, visitors can stop by the Durango Welcome Center, located in the heart of downtown Durango. Here, guests can pick up maps and brochures about the area's attractions, including the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Mesa Verde National Park, and the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway. The center also offers a variety of souvenirs and gifts, and friendly staff members are always available to answer questions and provide recommendations.

Another great option is the Colorado Springs Visitor Center, located in downtown Colorado Springs. This center provides information about the Pikes Peak region, including Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, and the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. Visitors can also purchase tickets for popular attractions, such as the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The center also offers free Wi-Fi, public restrooms, and a gift shop.

No matter where you're traveling in Colorado, be sure to stop by a visitor center to gather information and make the most of your family road trip.